The British Ports Authority (BPA) has said the post-Brexit political declaration between the UK and the EU could lead to border checks.
The political declaration follows the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement the two sides reached earlier in November 2018.
It includes a commitment to respect the EU’s four founding freedoms – the free movement of goods, people, services and capital – but specifies that freedom of movement will no longer apply to the UK.
Furthermore, it also includes a mutual pledge to utilize technology to avoid triggering the Northern Ireland backstop. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will also continue to play a role in mediating trade disputes.
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However, the BPA insists that the specific part of the agreement which states that the UK and EU “should treat one another as single entities as regards SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary] measures” means there will almost certainly be border check on products of plant and animal origin at the border.
— British Ports Association (@britishports) November 22, 2018
In a statement, Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the BPA, said: “The British Ports Association was supportive of the aspirations of the Government’s “Chequers” proposals over the summer as it committed to an agreement that ensured frictionless trade.
“This was to be achieved by agreeing a common rulebook with the EU, meaning there would be little or no need for new cumbersome regulatory checks at ports – particularly at Roll-on Roll-off ports such as Dover, Holyhead, Immingham and Portsmouth, where vehicles and trailers flow freely through with minimal or no stoppages.
“The proposals in this agreement appear to offer no guarantees that some new borders checks could be introduced on UK-EU trade flows.
“Whilst there is some encouraging language around minimizing trade barriers and agreeing common principles, it falls short of committing frictionless trade and could, therefore, cause potential disruption for some parts of the ports industry.”